December’s a busy month for just about everybody and there’s so much on our minds. In the chaos of shopping and preparing for the big day, it’s easy to get caught up and forget an important Christmas tradition. Oops.
From card-mailing and tree-decorating to watching the classic Christmas movies, here’s a list of activities you might want to do before Santa Claus comes to town ...
1. Bake classic Christmas cookies: There are plenty of different kinds of cookies to bake over the holidays, but a classic Christmas-y choice is thick, soft sugar cookies -- either plain or decorated with a shiny glaze of icing and a few sprinkles. They make great gifts for the neighbours and they’re perfectly festive to leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve.
Hop over to AllRecipes.com to snag their recipe for “The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies.” Whip up the dough and stick it in the fridge for a few hours (or overnight) so it’s firm enough to attack with the cookie cutters. Be sure to bake them for just six to seven minutes so they stay nice and soft. They’re amazing with a cup of tea or hot chocolate.
2. Attend a tree-lighting ceremony
3. Mail a letter to Santa using his special address: Santa Claus, North Pole, HOH OHO.
4. Get photos taken with Santa at your local spot
5. Mail Christmas cards: Kids who are too young to write can help with stamps and sealing.
6. Read your favourite Christmas books: The Night Before Christmas is always a perfect read for Christmas Eve when the visions of sugarplums really are dancing through an excited child’s head.
7. Drive around at night to look at Christmas lights while drinking hot chocolate
8. Make a donation to your local food bank: If you call ahead, they can give you a list of what they need most. Cash donations are always appreciated since they’ll likely be putting together turkey dinner hampers and will need to buy fresh ingredients.
9. Attend a Santa Claus parade
10. Find the perfect Christmas tree: Whether you cut down your own or choose it in a magical grocery store parking lot.
11. Host a Christmas music dance party
12. Decorate the Christmas tree
13. Watch your family’s classic Christmas movies: Every family has their own favourite Christmas movies, but popular ones are Elf, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Santa Clause 1, 2 and 3, Home Alone 1 and 2, Frosty the Snowman and the old-school, stop-motion Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. If you’re looking for something fresh to add to the lineup, consider the Christmas movies you enjoyed as a kid. Today’s kiddos might get a kick out of “old” movies like White Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street. Millennial parents (ahem) might enjoy re-watching silly, not-so-classic flicks like I’ll Be Home For Christmas -- Jonathan Taylor Thomas forever.
14. Wrap gifts together: Just be careful little ones know how to keep secrets!
15. Make a gingerbread house: The kits from the grocery store make it an easy project to do in an hour or two or you can make miniature gingerbread houses out of graham crackers.
Once the big day is over, kids might feel a post-holiday let-down -- adults, too! You’ve spent at least an entire month focusing on Christmas and suddenly, it’s all over.
Here are a few ways to stay busy during that cranky, post-Christmas period before school starts up again ...
1. Build a snowman: If there isn’t any snow, grab the Play-Doh (or make a batch of cloud dough) and get them to create miniature versions.
2. Have a tree-takedown party: Taking down the Christmas tree doesn’t need to be a depressing chore (often left to one of the parents to do alone). Put on some upbeat, non-holiday music, set out snacks and pack away the ornaments while discussing something else to look forward to like a winter trip or what you’ll do on March Break.
3. Play cards: Maybe it’s time to teach them a new game? Go Fish gets old very quickly, doesn’t it?
4. Go sledding: No snow? Hmm, how do you feel about them sledding down your stairs, Home Alone-style?
5. Head to a coffee shop for hot chocolate
6. Visit a local museum or science centre
7. Say yes to that sleepover they want to have
8. Walk to the park: Fresh air is good!
9. Start reading a book aloud: Older kids can take turns reading aloud, too.
10. Designate a screen marathon: Does this sound familiar? You don’t like the idea of your kids spending too many hours each day in front of a glowing screen, but you’re also very ready for them to be back at school. Choose a day when you just need a break -- maybe to secretly declutter their rooms of the old toys they no longer need -- and declare they can have a period of unlimited screen time. Their eyes might be sore by the end of the day, but they’ll probably never forget their amazing day of freedom, and think of all you can get done while they’re busy.